Pictures and Reports from Recent Walks
Here are some comments and images from some of our recent walks. Not surprisingly, those outings favoured by sunshine and spectacular scenery are better represented here. (Of course, the sun always shines on Club outings - it is just that some people don't notice it.)
The most recent walk is immediately below this - scroll down the page to see older walks. Also, you can click on the small "thumbnail" images to see larger images.
Gaelic place-name spellings here are generally as they are printed on OS maps. This is for the convenience of hillwalkers. I know many of these spellings are wrong and, indeed, not even consistent with one another.
Pictures are welcome from any club member who has a digital camera. There is no need for huge, hi-res images from an expensive SLR camera. In practice, large images take too long to download and will be compressed to a few hundred kilobytes!
This page contains reports and pictures for 2018 walks only. Older walks can be found here.
Wednesday 20th June 2018 — Glencoe
An Meall (414 m) walk in Ballachulish. A nice evening for the 5 walkers that went on the walk. Andrew, Gerry, and Chris waited until Margaret and Charlotte arrived at the visitor center. Some people were wearing waterproofs to keep the rain away. First a walk next to the corrie lochan then up next to the forest to the open hill and continued to the mast (414m, top of An Meall) with nice views over Glencoe and Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe. We saw the rain approaching over the loch so headed down after some pictures and enjoying the view. There was no possibility to be faster than the approaching rain so there was a test of rain gear and waterproofs on the way down. Margaret returned home and Andrew, Gerry, Chris, and Charlotte ended the walk by being well-fed in the Laroch in Ballachulish.
Saturday 16th June 2018 — Loch Mullardoch
An Socach, An Riabhachan, Sgurr na Lapaich & Carn nan Gobhar
An early start for the 14 walkers planning to take the Loch Mullardoch Ferry boat, up the loch, to start our ascent of the planned route.
Kevin, Jenny, Dave and Mary travelled up the night before. Graham, Angela, Jeannie, Toril, Liz, Ken, Wesley, Charlotte, Robert and Gavin had early starts to catch the ferry boat at 8.30 and 9 am.
The weather wasn’t as favourable as MWIS had forecast on Friday and we had, at times, a cold wind, a mixture of drizzly rain, heavy rain and a hail shower throughout the day. It tried to dry up towards the end of the day and there was some brightness in the sky. Despite the rain, and the varying cloud level, we did manage to have some fine views and glimpses, down into adjacent glens, back to the hills we’d just completed and towards distant hills.
Having completed it before, Jenny and Dave descended, to miss out Carn nan Gobhar while the remaining 12 walkers completed the route, as planned. It was a spectacular day in remote hills. The possibility to avoid the 10km walk back along the loch by taking the boat in the morning was much appreciated.
Liz Stevenson – Walk Co-ordinator for the day
Photos from Ken:
Saturday 2nd June 2018 — Loch Cluanie
A very warm sunny start to the walk at Loch Cluanie on Saturday saw Andrew, Gerry, Florian and Chis head off along the old military road. It was good to have Florian back for a visit and a chance to catch up. Our route soon took us off the old road and ascending the hill path up Carn Ghluasaid. A stonechat in all his finery scolded us on the way up and a burn provided welcome refreshment. The upper part of the walk was accompanied by hundreds of cranefly like insects which hung like bats onto the bottom of our rucksacks or flitted about our faces — fortunately they don’t bite.
From here Gerry opted for a shorter horseshoe walk in a clockwise direction. The rest of us headed for the high point of the walk, Sgurr nan Conbhairean, with its fine peak rising above us as we rounded the corrie between the two hill. On such a fine day, the spur leading to Sail Chaorainn proved too tempting and we added that to make it three Munros with views into further corries and glens; beyond the clouds were building.
The rubble of thunder accompanied our return towards Sgurr non Conbhairean, the sky darkened and the heavy rain with some hail started. Jackets on and heads down we skirted below the summit, descended the fine arête and hurried over the more exposed Drochaid an Tuill Easaich while the sky continued to rumble. By now the rain had settled into a familiar west coast mode and we returned to the main road via Meall Breac. Gerry, having just beated us back to the start, kindly spared us the mile or so walk along the side of the road by bringing the car round thus limiting the time the midges had for feeding. The Invergarry Hotel served a good coffee to conclude a successful if slightly damp day at Loch Cluanie.
Monday 28th May 2018 — Sgurr of Eigg
Of the 15 who travelled to Eigg, 11 decided to do the classic walk up the Sgurr of Eigg. This hill, though only 394 metres high, is recognisable from miles away when seen in profile and is on many a wish list.
A well used path led through cool shady woods then onto a track and finally a boggy path contouring around the N side of the cliffs to a bealach. For once the bog was dry and a pleasant breeze kept the midges away. A short scramble up from the bealach then back along the rocky ridge to the summit. Quite an airy place with vertical drops on 3 sides. We perched on top to have lunch and admire the somewhat hazy views. Gavin left to bag some more tops/humps/lumps/bumps The remaining energetic people retraced their steps down from the airy crest and headed off to Massacre cave. That left Dave, Jenny, Sheila and myself to wander back to the tea room for a well deserved ice cream.
Trip To Eigg — A Lowlanders View:
An amazingly hot summer’s day was enjoyed on the Isle of Eigg. 11 people went off to do the Sgurr and 3 people stayed at sea level.
I went round the coast north easterly from the pier in search of a beach and ended up at a beach just down from Kildonan. Great time here with a swim thrown in. I came back via the road for ice cream at the tea room.
For the other two lowlanders — one just pottered about enjoying the sunshine and the other went in search of caves including the massacre cave.
The ferry had been very busy on our way out and we had to be real sharp getting in the queue to make sure we boarded ok. It was just the same coming back and most of us got on — a real advantage if you had come by train to Mallaig as train people got priority. However, this did not apply to everyone and 12 people got left behind on Eigg which included 5 of our party. Thankfully, this was not for the night. After a wait of 3 hours, another ferry was sent from Mallaig to collect the stranded passengers. All got home safely but later than expected.
Sunday 27th May 2018 — Moy, Loch Laggan
The forecast was dry all day and a breeze enough to keep midges grounded, yet only two members turned out, Toril and Andrew. We met up at North Ballachulish, checked out the Woollen Mill for last minute deciders, and were at the start of the walk soon after 09:00. The car park at Moy Bridge was almost full, and cars were parked along the start of the estate road. The breeze was fierce from the northeast making it deliciously cool for a brisk walk in and ascent, but we were getting knocked about in the gusts. Lochan na h-Earba was alive with white-capped waves and a gust crossing the bridge threatened to tip us into the river. We followed the Allt Coire Pitridh E up to the path junction just below the Bealach Leamhain and turned N. We had elevenses at the foot of the SW aspect of Geal Charn, then picked out a convenient route up to the summit. Although there must have been many parties out, it was not easy to spot them among these grand hills. The wind got stronger as we climbed higher and traversed the long plateau to the summit cairn. A group of 6-8 appeared at the same time on the summit of the smaller Creag Pitridh to the west. We found some shelter on the lee side of the summit outcrop for some lunch then headed down W, across the col and up to Creag Pitridh. The wind never ceased but veered to the east and reduced as we descend SW from the summit, and along the crest of the rocky escarpment, over Sgurr an t-Saighdeir. There were fine views of the cliffs of Binnein Shuas across the loch, the latter having lost its furious white wave-crests. Regaining the track we quickly made the final few kilometres back to Moy and to the Stronlossit in Roybridge for coffee by 16:00. A great day out, 21 kilometres and about 1000m ascent.
Saturday 19th May 2018 — Ben Lomond
Chris, Robert, Suzanne, Gavin and Toril turned up for an exciting adventure including a cruise on Loch Lomond at the beginning and end of the walk to the top of Ben Lomond. The ferry took us from Tarbert to Inversnaid, a 30 minute journey in glorious sunshine on very calm water. From Inversnaid we headed south on the West Highland Way in the opposite direction of all the WHW walkers and there were many, through beautiful oak forest just coming into leaf and a carpet of bluebells and the odd waterfall just to complete the perfect picture. Just past Cailness — where there is a cafe for those who may be interested — we said goodbye for now to Suzanne who opted to continue along the WHW to Rowardennan. The rest of us headed straight up the hill on the S side of the Cailness burn in an ESE direction. It was rather steep but with vegetation and bracken low at this time of the year we made good progress and headed for the N ridge up to Ben Lomond. The lack of path suggested that this is not a very used route and we did not meet anyone but as the summit of Ben Lomond came into sight we could see it was a popular spot on this lovely sunny May Sunday. Once on ridge, Gualann Coarainn Achaidh, it did not take us long to reach the path for the final 200m of ascent to the summit of Ben Lomond. A steady stream of people going up and down and lots more on the summit confirmed that this is a popular hill and everyone seemed in good humour enjoying themselves and own achievements. The views of Loch Lomond and all its islands as well as other familiar hills nearby were good so well worth the effort.
Unfortunately, with a ferry to catch our descent down the ptarmigan ridge was rather hurried but we were rewarded with refreshments from the excellent cafe in the Youth Hostel at Rowardennan and a wee paddle in the loch before the ferry back to Tarbert. Truly a wonderful day out.
Just one note at the end, if you intend to do this walk check the ferry ticket options, there is a Ramblers ticket costing £15.
Photos from Chris:
Sunday 13th May 2018 — Stob Choire Claurigh & Stob Coire an Laoigh, Spean Bridge
On a good day, this circular, quite long walk can be spectacular. And this was one of those days. But when we were driving there, it was spitting with rain and the cloud was down on the tops. We were looking out from the road to see what snow there was on our hills, and there was quite a lot. So the decision was that we would take our ice axes but not crampons. By the time of our start, the rain had stopped, but the cloud was still there. After the track through the forest, we went through the gate and left the track to take to the hill. The two kilometre climb up Ruaigh na Gualainn was unrelenting, starting wet underfoot but getting drier. In the grass, there was evidence (holes and runs) of voles. After Stob Coire Gaibhre (Munro Top), it became less steep but we still had 1½ km and a boulder field where we saw two ptarmigan, to go before we reached the start of the ridge. The sky had now cleared and we were getting extensive views. The ridge started with a little easy scrambling on to Stob Choire Claurigh (Munro), then undulating for about three kilometres with some minor exposure in places over Stob a' Choire Leith (Top), Stob Coire Cath na Sine (Top), Caisteil (Top) on to Stob Coire an Laoigh (Munro). We had debated whether to go down by the ridge Sron an Lochain, but decided against it. The last top on the ridge was Stob Coire Easain and the initial drop from Sron an Lochain looked very steep and bouldery so the decision was correct. Going down from there, we could see the Grey Corries in all their splendour in glorious sunshine. We had encountered several patches of snow en route but negotiated them easily as the snow was soft and ice axes were not needed. Down the broad ridge to Beinn na Socaich was easy, and it seemed that we had dropped a long way, but were still over Munro height (Beinn an Socaich, 1007m was the last Munro Top). We followed a quad bike track off the ridge to a gate in the fence around the forest, and through a ride to a forestry track. This led east through the forest over a bridge over the Allt Choimhlidh, thus avoiding the burn crossing, to a junction not marked on the map. After some scratching of heads, we located the old tramway back to the car. After an eight-hour walk in glorious weather and surroundings, we headed home.
JohnPhotos from Angela:
Saturday 5th–12th May 2018 — Knoydart week
Summary of main activities - Knoydart 2018
Ten members in total shared a great week in a spectacular area with good company, good food and a variety of weather.
We had everything from snow, low cloud, gales, rain and hail to warm sunshine and clear distant views.
Most walking was done in groups of 2 as everyone had their own agenda but we had plenty of time to discuss routes, study maps, share experiences and look at photographs.
The house we stayed in was superb with an efficient drying room, large kitchen and a warm conservatory looking out over the bay. A haven when it rained and blew — as it did!
Ladhar Bheinn (Munro) the highest peak, kept its head in the cloud most of the week but was conquered by 4 people on the Monday (AG, IB, WG, RP), 2 on the Thursday (TF, DB) with two near misses also on the Monday. (JF, DF)
Meall Bhuidhe (Munro) saw 2 people on its cloud free summit on 2 separate days. Thursday (WG, RP) and Friday (JF, DF)
Beinn Bhuidhe (Corbett) had 2 visits. Thursday (JF, DF and AG, GG), followed on the Friday (TF, WG)
Sgurr Coire Choinnichean (Corbett) the impressive peak behind Inverie was summited on Monday (GG) and on Wednesday (JF, DF and AG, TF)
On Wednesday a party of 3 (DB,WG,RP) did the round trip to Doune — a long walk.
On Friday DB went to explore the old Mica mine and returned with lots of rock samples.
On the really bad days and well deserved rest days we explored the woods, the beaches, the monuments and the coffee shop…
A variety of wild life reported too — golden eagle, divers, deer, beetles and a multitude of spring flowers. NO MIDGES, NO BRACKEN and only 2 ticks.
Knoydart adventure (a wee walk up Ladhar Bheinn and Sgurr Coire Choinnichean)
Isobel, Robert, Willie and Andrew started off from the Kilchoan farmhouse which was to be our base for the week, at 7.59am on Monday morning. The clouds were covering the tops but it was dry when we set off. We headed along the road to the Old Forge Inn near the pier where there was a track that headed up through the forest. Lots of discussion was had about the BAD STEP! We carried on this track through a gate where the rain started to come on and water proofs were put on. We headed on up to a foot bridge over the Alt Coire Torr an Asgaill. We stopped here briefly for a drink and bite to eat before tackling the steep climb up the Choire Garbh to the left of the burn. At the bealach Willie spotted 2 people heading down from the summit this was to be Dave and Jenny who had set out earlier and were retracing their steps. There were small patches of snow but nothing we had to cross over, no ice axe or crampons were needed. We headed into the mist, wind and rain and soon reached a trig point that had seen better days. Andrew and Willie were already hunkered down below the ridge, just above a bank of snow tucking into their lunch when Robert and myself arrived. A few photos were taken and a discussion as to whether we would also retrace our tracks or carry on along the ridge. We all agreed to carry on. We reached the true summit and headed on down the ridge leaving the mist behind us. Loved coming down the ridge the views were starting to open up and there were a few easy scrambles nothing exposed. We soon reached the BAD STEP, Andrew and Willie were over it in no time. I eyed it up wondering the best way to tackle it and decided the best way was just to go for it. I got down not in the most graceful manner but was safe and Robert followed. There were lots of up and downs but it really is a superb ridge looking across to the sharks fin and beyond. We were back up into the mist before heading along Aonach Sgoilte and down to the bealach. Here we had another discussion about whether to tackle Sgurr Coire Choinnchean. Andrew decided to head down back to the Farmhouse and myself, Willie and Robert were keen to go on up this impressive Corbett. The weather was clearing and sunshine and blue skies were spurring us on. Lots of photo stops were taken on the way down looking across to Rum, Eigg and Skye, the views were absolutely beautiful. The ridge down from the summit was another fabulous ridge walk. Only a small easy scramble and we reached the top of the gorge. We came straight down the steep left hand side of the gorge to reach a stile over a deer fence. The hillside was covered in lovely yellow primroses which were difficult to avoid on the steep descent. We arrived at the track through the forest which would take us back to the Old Forge Inn where we were meeting for evening meal at 7.30. We arrived slightly late to a round of applause at 8pm, 12 hours from starting out. A venison burger, chips and a large refreshment was thoroughly enjoyed before the 20 minute walk back to the farmhouse.
Sgurr Coire Choinnichean — Knoydart 7th May
With an unsettled forecast, Monday looked the best option for a big day out. Six of our party headed for Ladhar Bheinn. My thoughts were on Sgurr Coire Chionnichean, the imposing Corbett which dominates the scene when approaching Inverie from seaward. It had been on my list for years. The recommended path wandered around the forest to the back of Inverie but a local plan of forest walks showed there was a route directly up the front, starting quite near our accommodation — no walk in! It was certainly unrelentingly steep but a faint path led up through newly planted trees to a stile and onto the upper slopes. A carpet of primroses everywhere. The summit did not disappoint. Grand views of the Ladhar Bheinn ridge except the top which was in cloud all day. Further round extensive views of the small isles and Skye. The ridge continued eastwards descending gradually to Bealach Mam Suidheig and the track below. One point of interest on this ridge was a large fissure, quite deep and something to avoid on a misty day! The long walk back could not be avoided but in all a very satisfying day.
Photos from Gerry:
Photos from Toril:
The view towards the top of Loch Nevis and Sourlies, Allt Gleann Meadail waterfall and the outlet of the river Inverie.
Saturday 5th May 2018 — Ben Oss (and not Beinn Dubhcraig), Tyndrum
Poor visibility, drizzle and winds up to 50mph was not the best of forecasts for the planned walk to Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss. In the event the MWIS was right on one out of the three, the visibility above about 500m was down to 30m at times. I could also take issue with their definition of drizzle — it felt pretty wet to me. Nevertheless Jeannie, Toril and Chris set off with the aim of definitely climbing Ben Oss and managed to avoid being diverted onto Beinn Dubhchraig on the way up. The restored bridge on the Allt Gleann Auchreoch was a welcome change from the last time I had been up there as the river would have been tricky to cross. The path wove its way through the old pine forest before reaching the Allt Coire Dubhchraig and its impressive multi channelled waterfall. The going in the wood and on the open hill was generally wet and boggy. The wind picked up a bit on the bealach between the two Munros and we needed a bit of help from the GPS to find the route down the steep west facing slope. We also need the GPS when we found ourselves walking around the side of Ben Oss on what we had thought was the path to the summit. The situation was recovered and a couple of ptarmigan, now in summer plumage, were surprised to see walkers appearing in their domain from the left field. The final ascent to the summit cairn was on a snow field manageable in the 3-season boots. We spent just enough time at the top to acknowledge the cairn and then made a rapid descent of the snow field to a more sheltered area for a late lunch stop. The return journey was a retracing of our ascent, without detouring to Beinn Dubhchraig, and discussions ranging from the best ginger for gingerbread to the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Good Food Café in Tyndrum was in sunshine by the time we arrived, a little damp and tired, to be revived by a good coffee and a little something; pleased to have finally climbed Ben Oss for the Club on the 4th attempt!
Sunday 29th April 2018 — Cairngorms
Six people out on a wonderful day in the Cairngorms, John, Jeannie, Ivan, Graham, Andrew and Gerry. Sunny spells, light winds and clear air with views to distant snowy peaks — goodness knows what they were!
We met at the top car park where a few die hard skiers were having their last day of the season. An easy climb up the west arm of Coire an Lochan then we left the track and headed up steep snow slopes to the summit of Cairn Lochan. Lots of cornices just waiting to collapse into the coire below and crags still full of ice and snow — quite spectacular. Following the rim of the coire we crossed some hare tracks leading out to the edge of a sunken cornice where they did an abrupt U turn. That was a close shave or maybe he was just having a look! We crossed one or two small snow patches and just before Stob Coire an t-Sneachda we noticed a ptarmigan, standing quite close, still white and being on snow obviously thought we couldn’t see him. Then we met 2 skiers looking for some snow on the plateau but they were in for a long walk I’m afraid. Cairngorm summit was busy as usual and reluctantly we turned north down to the Ptarmigan restaurant and followed the Sron an Aonaich ridge back to the car park. The café was still open so we had refreshments then headed home. A great day.
Saturday 21st April 2018 — Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Dearg, Broadford, Isle of Skye
A good day in prospect with a dry forecast, AG, GG, JB, IC CT, GT set off enthusiastically at 0800 from Fort William, heading for the Isle of Skye. We picked up CB at Spean Bridge. She had already driven from Perth that morning. We made brisk progress, stopping only briefly at Dornie and arrived at the start of the walk at about 1000. There was room to park near the Chambered Cairn on the B8083. These hills are incredibly steep, right from the floor of the glen barely above sea-level. The scene is impressive and provoked some discussion on whether to approach the hill by a more round-about less-steep route. We decided to take the steepest head-on route anyway, as detailed in the programme and described more fully in the SMC Grahams guide. A wide path led NW across the level strath with a bridge over the Broadford River. After the houses at Coire-chat-achan the ground, suddenly steep, got steeper still as we gained altitude. A faint path was easy to follow at first, but required close attention further up and was lost altogether each time a scree slope had to be mounted. It was worth a pause frequently to admire the views, extending with each metre of height gained.
Several hundred metres up and the wind became noticeable, quickly increasing to a quite unexpected ferocity. We had had elevenses lower down but at the summit found shelter in the lee of a huge cairn and decided to take an early lunch there. Our three hills looked superb, linked together with saddles and ridges of almost mathematically perfect curvature. The views below a fast-moving cloud base were good but some higher summits in the Black Cuillin were obscured. The sea on all sides was flat, remarkable considering the strength of the wind we were experiencing. The descent to the col between Coire Reidh and Coire Gorm was arduous due to the severe buffeting of the southerly gale. We sat on the lee side and discussed our options. GG decided to head N down into Coire Reidh, the rest of us would tough it out.
The ascent of Beinn Dearg Mhor was relatively easy with respite from the wind possible at times below the crest of the ridge on the lee side. However, as expected the descent SE to Bealach Coire Sgreamhach was very steep and directly into the teeth of the gale. Moreover, it was badly eroded and loose in places. Here, GT galloped off ahead to bag an additional hill, Ben Suardal, undoubtedly on a tick list somewhere. The five left on the hill carried on over Beinn Dearg Bheag and headed down the long ridge eastwards into a relatively calm air. We all met up back at the cars at about 1600 and headed for a cafe in Broadford. Great day, worth the long drive and well worth putting on the programme again sometime.
Saturday 7th April 2018 — Meall Bhuidhe, Bridge of Gaur
Members of party: Diane, Toril, Andrew, Gerry, Robert P, Gavin, Chris, Fiona.
What a great idea — to do a distant Munro using public transport — take the train to Kinloch Rannoch, and “Dial a Bus” to Bridge of Gaur. Meall Bhuidhe “Glen Lyon”, became Meall Bhuidhe “Rannoch”!
The weather was fine and high water in the Allt Sloc na Creadha meant we went well upstream before finding a rather dodgy crossing. Gavin went first, helping others on to the overhanging snow on the far bank!
Our route took us up the western slopes of the hill, almost directly to its summit. We then proceeded northwards over Garbh Mheall, and down soft snow slopes to the bridge at the confluence with the Allt Caile.
Andrew and Gerry had opted to do Leagag, 601m, a Marilyn to the north of the main route. Gavin continued the main route to include this summit also.
Meanwhile the others reversed the outward route back to Bridge of Gaur.
We all had a pleasant 15 minute wait for the returning mini bus, and back to the railway station for tea and cakes.
Andrew and I had decided on a rather more relaxed day than the others. As they headed up the track at high speed, we followed more sedately, having plenty of time for our objective — the Marilyn “Leagag”. We ascended the W ridge, grass at first then rocky outcrops with patches of very wet snow. Views to the S were dominated by Garbh Mheall and a glimpse of Meal Buidhe behind. Elsewhere we could see familiar peaks, some topped with cloud and all from a new angle. We descended E picking our way between crags and disturbing a herd of deer. The track N took us past some patches of old Caledonian pine forest near the river. We then followed a grassy track through more mixed woodland — delightful until the path deteriorated into serious bog and peat hags but we eventually found our way down to Little Finnart and the road back. Ten minutes later the others arrived. They’d also had a good day.
Photo from Toril (looking back at the summit):
Photos from Chris:
Sunday 1st April 2018 — Beinn Fhionnlaidh
Wow, another superb day for the Nevis Hillwalkers. Five of us out on Beinn Fhionnlaidh — John, Dave, Jenny, Liz and Ken. Sunshine all day and superb views. On the way up we were island spotting Mull, Jura (the Paps), Eigg (the Sgurr), Rum and maybe Coll or Tiree in the distance. We followed the route in the programme — the lochans were both frozen over and snow covered. Hard icy snow higher up, but not a problem as the ground was not too steep here. Fantastic views from the top — Ben Nevis, the Loch Etive hills and the Cruachan hills. We rounded of a lovely day in the Creggan Inn.
Photos from Ken:
Photos from Dave:
Saturday 24th March 2018 — Carn Liath & Stob Poite Coire Ardair (Creag Meagaidh)
The mixed weather of the preceding week continued only it contrived to combine everything into one 8 hour period. Alex, Chris, Dave, Gavin, Jenny, Kevin and Robert set off in sunshine up Allt Coire Ardair, a good path with the regenerating birch beginning to look more like a woodland after many years of slow growth. The snow lay in drifts across the route as we approached the lochan. Above the frozen surface, the dark, impressive cliffs and gullies of Creag Meagaidh were etched in white snow and ice. The sharp eyed among us spotted small figures working their way up some of these gullies for some ice climbing. Fortunately the majority opted to continue with planned walk and tackle the ascent via the Window and not one of these alternative routes!
One of the snow showers hit as we approached the bealach at the top of the Window, where the strong wind drove the fine flakes into our faces making progress difficult for a while. A couple of the group took in Creag Meagaidh and one of its ex-tops before following the main party onto Stob Poite Coire Ardair. The decision to do the planned route in reverse proved to be a good one with the wind now in our backs along with the regular snow showers. The snow was variable along the ridge but was firm enough to making walking straight forward. The wind had scoured some areas clear and created cornices on the north and east edges, which we gave a wide berth. For a fleeting moment, one of the clouds drifting across the ridge contained a white rainbow. The cairn of Carn Liath, the second (or third) Munro of the day, was an impressive ice sculpture, but not a place to linger too long as yet another snow shower enveloped us.
The white ptarmigan was a welcome sight on the way down although the croak and flight suggested that the feeling was not mutual. The descend off Carn Liath provided an opportunity for some boot “ski-ing” in near perfect snow conditions. “Near perfect” however, would not be an apt description of the skiers’ style! Below the snow line we stopped to enjoy some late sunshine and the definite feeling that spring is on its way, in the glen, at least.
7 met up at the car park: Alex, Chris, Gavin, Robert, David, Jenny, and myself. It was soon decided to reverse the route to have the wind at our backs on the top and we set off in glorious sunshine. Jenny and Dave were adamant that they were going to go at their own pace and that they might see us at lunch time. The snow was firm but not icy and the going was fairly easy and although there were snow showers most of the time we had a great view of several pairs of climbers on the crags to the north of Poite Coire Ardair. The wind funnelled through the window making visibility very poor but Gavin and Chris decided to dash out to Creag Meagaidh donning crampons for a short spell. Alex, Robert, and I plodded on as planned with David and Jenny not far shy of the Window. The weather was good at the summit of Stob Poite and we were treated to good views but were well pleased to have the wind at our backs as we set off along the ridge. Visibility fluctuated with the snow showers and was probably at its lowest as we negotiated a short but steep snow covered drop off Meall an t-Snaim in to Uinneag Corrie a' Chaorainn. A shadowy figure on the opposite slope shouting to us and letting us know where he had come down a couple of minutes before. (His footsteps already filled in). It was here The fast crew caught us up and reported they had not passed the other two and we surmised they must have turned back. No views from the top of Carn Laith and an easy descent back to the cars where we found Dave and Jenny's van already gone. All in all an excellent day.
Photos from Chris:
Photos from Kevin:
Sunday 18th March 2018 — Aonach Beag & Aonach Mor
The weather forecast was for snow flurries, clear skies and moderate winds (well, it was right on most counts). Prior to the start of the walk, Andrew and Gerry had said that they would do some of the hill, but probably not all. Angela and I had decided to attempt Aonach Beag but Aonach Mor was unlikely. Toril was keen to do both and Andrew W (guest) wanted to get out on the hills and do whatever he could.
Walking through the gorge, the wind was cold but not too strong, and as we came out into the meadow, we could see the Steall Falls frozen almost solid. We headed up the path along the burn towards Sgurr a' Bhuic. We turned more to the NE at about 700m and encountered the first snow. It was hard-packed with ice and ideal for crampons, so they were deployed. The snow was good but in places very steep and tricky. It levelled out and we stopped for a break and Andrew and Gerry decide they had gone far enough. We four carried on on a wide ridge up a gradual slope until we reached the cairn on Sgurr a' Bhuic. The views all the way up were spectacular with the sun shining on the snow on the surrounding hills, including the Ben. The wind was stronger with some severe gusts producing some spindrift. We dropped down to a col avoiding the edge of the ridge. At the col, Angela and I told Toril and Andrew W that we were going to head back down the corrie, but if they wished to continue, they could. While they were debating this, an extremely fierce gust of wind nearly blew us all over. That made the decision for them, as to continue up the steep and exposed ridge would have been potentially dangerous. Therefore the four of us went down the corrie on perfect snow with the wind behind us and decreasing as we descended. So, no Munros were climbed that day (just a Munro top). After a little while, we caught up with Andrew and Gerry and dropped down into the glen, where we stopped for a break alongside an ice-encrusted burn. Here Toril decided it would be refreshing to have a paddle. So, off came the boots and socks and in she went while the rest of us just looked on shivering at the thought. Entering the meadow from the east, we came across quite a few tourists with more coming through the gorge. The wind was at our backs but was even stronger than in the morning, so it was good to get back to the cars.
We enjoyed coffee and chat in the Woollen Mill afterwards.
Sunday 4th March 2018 — Beinn Odhar Mhor & Beinn Odhar Beag, Glenfinnan
Four people, John B, Angela, Ivan and Toril, were not deterred by the cold weather currently sweeping over the country and set out early on Sunday morning to climb Beinn Odhar Mhor and Beinn Odhar Bheag. We started the walk from the lay-by on the A830, crossed the railway and headed SW up the hill. The ground was frozen with patches of ice but easily avoided at lower level and as we ascended the snow patches grew bigger. As we reached the water shed of the path at 400m crampons were needed and we headed S up the ridge to the small lochan at NM846801 and then SE to the summit of Beinn Odhar Mhor. The visibility was reasonably good for most of the ascent but a very cold wind from E made the climb up to the summit harder and we could find no shelter for a quick break so we carried on. Sudden changes in visibility caused by snow flurries and spin drift necessitated some navigation to get us along the ridge but the main problem was gusts of wind, at times very hard to stay upright. We did find some shelter behind some larger boulders for a much welcomed break before heading up the final summit of Beinn Odhar Bheag. This final steep climb was perhaps made a bit easier as we literally were blown up the hillside to the summit, a very quick ascent. The prospect of having to walk against the high winds to return the same way back was not very inviting so a decision was made to descent the ridge to the Bealach a Choire Bhuidhe. A great descent with crampons on the hard packed snow and clear views of the hills around, even glimpses of sunshine here and there for short moments. From the Bealach we continued the descent NE and crossed the Allt a' Coire Bhuidhe and followed this N to a small bridge NM838803, then NE around the col and back to start of walk. It was a bit of a scramble around the N side of the col but we enjoyed some spectacular views from here. A great day out despite the cold wind, walking on frozen ground made a first of dry boots after a walk in Scotland for Ivan.
Photos from Ivan:
Saturday 24th February 2018 — Stob Coir’an Albannaich & Meall nan Eun
A challenging walk but an improving weather forecast during the week enticed four members out on Saturday’s walk above Glen Etive. Alex, Willie, Poyao and Chris set off along the track across the river to the base of Beinn Chaorach’s north west ridge. The ascent was steep with care needed to avoid a slide on the ice mixed in among the grass and crags. It was a relief when the gradient eased a bit and hands were no longer required to assist the walk. Beyond Beinn Chaorach the snow cover increased but was now hard packed and relatively easy to walk over with just the occasional duck on ice impersonation. The gullies of the burns beyond Beinn Chaorach were transformed by the snow and sunshine into a landscape of imagined glaciers and ice caps. The forecast of strong SE winds proved to be correct and it was a hard, steady pull up onto our first Munro of the day, Stob Coir’an Albannaich, heads down and hoods up tight. We only stopped on the top long enough to tie on the crampons. NB something we should have done earlier when the wind was a little less severe; the same principle also applying to putting on an extra layer.
The descend off Stob Coir’an Albannaich was steep and we were wary of the remains of some significant cornicing on its sharp SE ridge. The route took us over the edge once clear of the crags but it was with some trepidation we approached the point where some walkers before us appeared to have descended. It was steep but manageable although we were still relieved to be clear of the gully and to find some shelter from the wind for a late lunch. The second Munro (Meall nan Eun) was more straight forward and the wind, although still strong, had eased a little allowing us to enjoy the superb view; 360 degrees of snow capped mountains. The view over Bidean nam Bian and the mountains of Glen Coe to the Mamores and Ben Nevis was Alpine in its grandeur and beauty.
The descent into the Allt Ceitlein began with a cautious working our way down a small ridge between two shallow gullies, made a little more challenging by the cracks in the snow packs on either side of the ridge. Safely passed this part there was time to have a quick practice at ice axe braking before dodging from snow patch to snow patch until we reached a sunny spot to remove the crampons.
Glen Ceitlein was now free of snow and it was a steady walk back to rejoin the starting track at the bridge, above us the snow and crags and frozen waterfalls. We had seen the occasional deer on the walk with a particular fine young stag in it velvet brown coat watching us from the inside of the deer fence. On the road out, however, there were deer everywhere including a group enjoying the attention of some tourists, so tame that they were happy to pose for a selfie!
Sunday 18th February 2018 — Beinn Challuim, Tyndrum
On the drive, there was snow at the side of the road towards Tyndrum, but when we arrived at the start point, the snow was much higher, probably about 500m. We, John F, Ivan and I, had decided to do the walk up and back, because the suggested route of descent was very steep and led into a corrie that had a fairly new forestry plantation, surrounded by an electric fence.
Following the suggested route of ascent, we came to the deer fence that took us up easy slopes and over the two stiles, but the peat hags appear to have been levelled by the farm to stop erosion. Walking into the snow, there were clear footprints that followed the fence, and we followed them. At about 600m, we entered the mist, so from then we had no views at all. Using the fence and footprints made for easier walking and navigating, and on the way up, we met two skiers. Shortly before the south summit, we met them coming down, complaining that the snow was not good for skiing. At the south summit, there were more walkers and a cold wind. We carried on following the footprints (and a compass bearing!) to the main summit, where the footprints stopped. The mist was quite thick and it was difficult to verify that we were actually at the top. It was too cold to linger, so we retraced our steps, and descended the way we had come up. Lower down the snow was wet and very slippery, but apart from a couple of slides, there were no mishaps. There was quite a lot of snow, but crampons and ice axes were not required at all.
We had tasty coffee in the Artisan Cafe near Tyndrum.
Sunday 4th February 2018 — Beinn Achaladair
This was another wonderful winter's day with clear skies and no wind. There were six on the walk—Toril, Angela, Rick (prospective new member), Alex (all the way from Inverurie), Poyao and me.
We had decided to head for Beinn Achaladair first, as to do the whole programmed walk meant about 20 km with 1300m ascent, which is a long way for this time of year. This also gave us the option to decide whether to try the whole walk once we had reached the first summit (although three of us had already decided to do only Beinn Achaladair). The start of the walk was not very interesting, but it did get better. This involved an approach via a wet and muddy path on the west side of the Allt Coire Achaladair, over the railway line and up to the col between Beinn Achaladair and Beinn an Dothaidh. We could see a group of seven climbers on the extremely steep approach to Beinn an Dothaidh. Before we reached the col, we crossed the burn and that was where the snow really started. It was fairly deep with a crust on top that often gave way, making it hard going. The ascent of the ridge was uneventful, but on reaching the summit, the views were breath-taking. Here, Alex and Rick debated whether to tackle the second Munro, but decided not to, and so all of us descended the same way we had come up. Three of us put on crampons, as there were some icy patches on the ridge. On the ridge, we met a walker who pointed out a big cloud bank to our south that he said was bad weather from Crianlarich southwards (lucky us!). We managed to find a slightly less wet and muddy path down to the cars and drove to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel for refreshments.
Saturday 13th January 2018 — Beinn Chabhair
After a spell of good weather, Saturday dawned with cloud and the threat of rain, nevertheless nine of us set out from Inveranan for Beinn Chabhair. The steep climb through the open woodland, passed the water fall on the Beinn Glas burn, brought us out into the open upper glen and our hill somewhere in the indistinguishable line between the land and the sky. Here the group split with Andrew, Jerry and John heading for Ben Glas and Lochan a Chaisteil while Gavin, Ivan, Ken, Angela and Chris along with Jan, a guest for the day, continued towards Beinn Chabhair. At first the ground was a patchwork of snow, ice, heather, grass and bog leading up to Lochan Beinn Chabhair. As we approached the frozen lochan, the summit of our mountain remained shrouded in cloud and we left the relative shelter of the glen. Taking a NE line from the far end of the lochan we began to ascend the steep show covered slopes. The landscape around become black and white with the dark crags the only contrast to the white snow. Somewhere around 600m we donned the crampons and extracted ice axes before continuing to make our way up snowy slopes between the crags and quickly entered the cloud. Here the wind had sculptured the snow on every surface into delicate feathers which together gave the appearance of the rough coat of a bear. The wind intensity was increasing and the spin drift at times making seeing difficult. Navigation now became more challenging but aided by the remains of the footsteps of walkers from earlier in the week. In these conditions reaching the summit area was deemed sufficient as the visibility, exposure and now falling snow mixing with spin drift made searching for the big cairn a step too far. In the conditions we also opted to return the way we had come, leaving the interesting looking route back via Ben Glas for a better day. The two groups reunited at the Drover’s Inn voted, if you believe the T-shirt, the best pub in Scotland…in 1705…but still a good place for a drink and a review of the day’s adventure, making sure not to offend the stuffed brown bear on the way in.
Photos from Jan:
Photo from Ken:
Sunday 7th January 2018 — Beinn a'Chaisteil & Beinn nan Fuaran
The skies were clear (no rain!), the winds were light, there was snow on the hills, but none on the roads. In other words, it was a nearly perfect winter day for walking. But only two went out-Kev and me. Perhaps it was because it was Sunday?
We set of on the scheduled route on the track to the viaduct and then the track into Glen Coralan (seeing a single deer on the way). On the way, we noticed that there is a track for a hydro scheme to the SW of the Allt Coralan, leading to a dam at the waterfall. There was no snow to this point, but as we headed north to the ridge, we encountered it. The ground was frozen and the snow mainly firm to walk on. So the ascent to the summit was straightforward but hard-going, although I took out my ice-axe for a steep climb in deep snow. We nearly missed the summit as there were some substantial fence-posts covered in ice and snow that looked like cairns. At the summit cairn, the views were of the nearby Munros of Beinn Dorain, Creag Mhor and Corbett Cam Chreag. Going NNE to the saddle, the snow was again a mixture of firm and soft. When we got there, I had to tell Kev that I was not up to doing the second hill, Beinn nan Fuearan. So we decided to call it a day and make our descent.
However, we did not go down the way suggested in the route description, but instead went SE into the glen. This was longer, but much less steep and avoided the river crossings. On the descent, we saw a flurry of voles as they ran one after the other along a vole run to a small rock where we could see them hiding.
In the glen, the ground was frozen which made the walking easier and much drier than it would be normally. Rounding the nose of the SE ridge of Beinn a' Chaisteil, we came to a quad bike track that led us back to the track of our ascent. We dropped down to the dam to see if we could join the lower track on the SE side of Glen Coralan, but were unable to cross the burn as there was a gorge. So we continued along the track until we came to a turn-off that did lead to the lower track. We followed this until it joined the main track at the turbine house for the hydro scheme.
Amazingly, although the ground was frozen and there was lots of snow, there was no ice and so we did not need our crampons on the whole walk.
We enjoyed a coffee at the Tyndrum Inn before Kev set of on his 4 hour drive back to Northumberland and started my one hour drive to Oban.